May 23, 2012
It’s 7:20 am in France. And as usual I am the first one awake. The baby is sleeping in a very comfortable crib in the room next to ours. And my husband is lying asleep in the bed where I am sitting and writing this entry. It’s been quite a journey but we have finally arrived. Our trip was very difficult. Well, part of it was very difficult. Max surprised me by sleeping on the plane for most of the trip. The difficult part arrived when we did in Schiphol, Amsterdam. What a shithole. Our flight coming in from New York was very late on arrival due to bad weather at JFK airport. We had 45 minutes to make our transfer from one extreme end of the airport to another. This included going through security, passport control and getting boarding passes at the gate.
If we had had a longer transfer, we probably would have figured out sooner than we didn’t have a ticket for the baby to make the connecting flight. But instead we learned this at the gate with 10 minutes to board the plane. They denied our entry onto the plane. Denied - at the gate - with people waiting for us at our destination city, Luxembourg.
Once we got over the initial shock of missing our flight, we rallied and went to the transfer desk where Jon worked out problem with the assistance of a very helpful KLM ticketing agent. Turns out, the lunkhead who checked us in in New York City was supposed to SELL us a ticket for the baby to get on our flight per our arrangement with DELTA/KLM as we made it online and confirmed over the telephone.
But instead of giving us a separate ticket and boarding pass for Max, the agent gave Max a boarding pass using my information. So in essence we had two boarding passes for one ticket. Max’s boarding pass listed him as VALERIE BLACKELL/infant boarding pass. That should have raised a red flag for us before we got on the flight, but we blindly trusted that the slack jawed moron who did this knew what he was doing.
Even my mother, who works for an airline as a ticketing agent, didn’t notice this huge gaff. Until we got to the gate for our connecting flight with seconds to spare in Schiphole, we had no idea at all that a mistake had been made.
The only thing we could do, was go to the transfer desk and get tickets for a later flight, which was much later. 7 hours later. What do you do with a baby at an airport for 7 hours while you are waiting for a connecting flight. I’ll tell you. Not much. We ended up letting him crawl on the dirty airport floor for most of the afternoon while Jon and I watched the hours slowly tick by.
If it had just been us that had been effected by this scheduling change, that would have been enough drama for one family. But there was an additional drama. My aunt and uncle were waiting for us in Luxembourg at 10:30 in the morning and we had no way to get in touch with them. Around 11:30 Jon and I found a Starbucks and turned on our computers. I wrote to every family member that I knew could get in touch with my aunt and uncle to let them know what happened. I called my mother repeatedly in New York starting at 3 in the morning New York time, so she could also get in touch with my relatives.
At some point during the day, I received notification that my aunt and uncle had been informed of our dilemma. How nice it was to see their smiling faces as we emerged from the Luxembourg airport. But our journey wasn’t over. We still had along car ride. It was during this car ride that Max cried, really cried for the first time in two days. He started crying in the car, and continued crying until he fell asleep around 9:30. He is still sleeping now. And it’s now 7:40 in the morning.
We anticipated that how Max behaved would be the most difficult part of the journey. We didn’t count on all the problems we encountered in Amsterdam. But we made it through the journey and Max doesn’t seem any worse for the wear. Although he does seem wary of our relatives, I’m sure he’ll warm up to them after a good night’s rest.
It’s amazing what you have to do to earn vacation sometimes.